A rare Olympic relay torch used in Sweden for the equestrian section of the 1956 Olympics has blown a pre-auction estimate out of the water, fetching $US412,500 at auction.
The torch, among items being auctioned by sporting and Olympic memorabilia specialist Ingrid O’Neil, in California, had been expected to fetch $US175,000 at auction.
The 1956 Olympics were held in Melbourne, Australia, but quarantine regulations prompted a decision to hold the equestrian events in Stockholm, Sweden.
It rates as one of the highest prices every paid for a piece of Olympic memorabilia. It is believed to be the second-highest price ever paid for an Olympic torch.
Ingrid O’Neil told Insidethegames.biz: “As you can imagine, I was quite surprised about the level of interest and the amount it sold for. It also made for an extremely happy consignor.”
The torch has darkening from the flame beneath the bowl and on the inside of the bowl.
The auction house said before the sale that its research had determined that only five torches were used in the torch relay in Sweden. Two of them reside in the Olympic Stadium Museum in Stockholm. Another torch was used in the torch relay in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The fire for the Olympia-Stockholm torch relay was lit on June 2 in Olympia, Greece, and carried by runners, along with the older Helsinki 1952 torch, over 325km to Athens.
A hurricane lamp was lit by a representative of SAS Airlines, and a few hours later it landed at Copenhagen’s Kastrup Airport. Riders carried the torch into the city where it was kept overnight in the Town Hall.
The following day the flame was flown to Malmö in the south of Sweden. From there 150 riders took the flame over five days and nights to Stockholm.
On the opening day on June 10, 1956, Hans Wikne rode with the flaming torch into the stadium, where he lit the cauldron.